Enterprise Cloud – It’s About Management

Today, more than 90 percent of enterprises have deployed or are planning to deploy a cloud solution. As enterprise cloud deployments grow, however, requirements for manageability expand. Public cloud/service provider features are now becoming very relevant to large enterprises because they have massive user bases, many different departments, even sub-companies, and different geographic regions. They need internal tracking and billing mechanisms, and they need control over which resources each user can access.

Cloud Management Challenges

As cloud use expands within an enterprise, management challenges expand with them. What might begin as a shared resource for the DevOps group can rapidly expand into a repository for all business units in all geographical regions. Challenges in such an environment include:

  • Ensuring that each user or group has access to adequate resources without overprovisioning;
  • Making optimal use of existing server, networking, and storage systems to maximize return on investment;
  • Enabling chargeback and billing mechanisms to accurately account for resources used; and
  • Managing resources across multiple clouds.

To overcome these challenges, a cloud platform should meet several management requirements.

Cloud Management Requirements

A cloud is a collection of shared resources, and fundamentally, running a cloud requires managing user access to those resources. There are several aspects of management to consider.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Cloud administrators need to be able to use existing as well as new servers” hashtags=”Cloud, IT”]

Infrastructure management – A cloud will likely leverage new as well as existing server, storage, and networking resources. The goal of a private cloud management system is to maximize flexibility in integrating and managing these resources. For example, cloud administrators need to be able to use existing as well as new servers and storage systems, and they shouldn’t be constrained in terms of which servers and storage systems they can use to enable or scale the cloud.

User management – Cloud administrators need the ability to manage users individually as well as in groups, dedicating specific resources to specific users and groups as needed. Groups can be development teams, business units, departments, or even sub-companies, and users may belong to more than one group.

Server/CPU management – Each node in a cloud cluster is shared by multiple applications and users. Server and CPU management allows administrators to control how many users can access a server or even a specific CPU core in a server, and to dictate what levels of computing service each user gets.

Networking management – An effective management system should allow cloud administrators to control networking resources on a per-user basis, determining how much bandwidth each user or application gets, which levels of QoS each user or application gets, and which logical networks any individual user or group can access for security enforcement.

Storage management – Most enterprises tier storage depending on the needs of the data being stored. Different users require different levels of storage performance, such as slow spinning disk storage (SATA or SAS) or fast flash storage (SSD or NVMe), and applications such as Data Recovery or Backup must have dedicated storage resources. A cloud administrator should be able to optimize the use of storage resources across the enterprise to best meet the needs of each user, group, or application, and should be able to scale with individual storage systems.

Billing management – Large organisations need to be able to charge departments for cloud resource usage. This is a fundamental capability for tracking total cost of ownership (TCO) for the cloud platform and associated infrastructure.

Multi-cloud management – Most organisations use multiple clouds, incorporating both public and private cloud resources into their cloud deployments. An effective cloud management system allows for workload mobility and access control across multiple clouds through a single user interface. A large company might have a large data centre in North America, with regional data centres in other countries. Users need access to local resources, but also the ability to “burst up” into different data centres and sets of resources.

Cloud Management Benefits

By managing all aspects of cloud operations, enterprises can maximize the use of their existing hardware, ensure that all users have access to only the resources they need and have the governance and security they require for successful operations. As enterprises expand their use of cloud technology, they need greater management capabilities to maximize infrastructure investments and ensure that all users get access to the compute and storage resources they need without over-provisioning or starving applications. With the right cloud management platform in place, they can achieve these goals.

Dr. Julian Chesterfield is the Chief Scientific Officer at OnApp, responsible for Emerging Technologies Research and Development, specialising in server virtualisation, storage and network IO. After completing a PhD in Computer Science at Cambridge University, he became an early member of the Cambridge based tech startup XenSource, subsequently acquired by Citrix, where he was the storage architect for the XenServer and open source Xen products.

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